Die casting alloys are normally non-ferrous, and there is a large number available with a wide range of physical and mechanical properties covering almost every conceivable application a designer might require.
Zinc-based alloys are the easiest to die cast. Ductility is high and impact strength is excellent, making these alloys suitable for a wide range of products. Zinc alloys can be cast with thin walls and excellent surface smoothness making preparation for plating and painting relatively easy.
ZA alloys represent a new family of zinc-based die casting materials which contain higher aluminum content than standard zinc alloys. These alloys provide high strength characteristics plus high hardness and good bearing properties. Thin wall castability characteristics and die life are similar to zinc alloys. ZA-8 is recommended for hot chamber die casting, whereas ZA-12 and ZA-27 must be cast by the cold chamber die casting process. All ZA alloys offer similar creep properties and are superior to standard zinc alloys.
Magnesium alloys (Table 3) are noted for low weight, high strength to weight ratio, exceptional damping capacity, and ease of machining. Casting temperatures are about the same as aluminum, and both hot chamber and cold chamber machines are used to produce castings. Casting rates for magnesium are high because of its low heat content which produces rapid solidification. For the same reason, less energy is required to heat the metal to casting temperature.
Copper-based alloys are generally known as brass or bronze. They provide the highest mechanical properties of any of the normally die cast metals. Brasses have high strength and toughness, good wear resistance, and excellent corrosion resistance. Dimensional stability is excellent. Of the various brass casting alloys available, alloy Z30A is used for the majority of die casting applications.
Lead and tin alloys enjoy only minor use in die casting since their strengths are low. Lead die castings find applications where high density (wheel weights) or corrosion resistance (plumbing goods) is needed. Tin may be found in small parts where extremely close dimensional tolerances are needed, or where contact with food or certain chemicals may be encountered.